TikTok has quickly become the go-to platform for all things beauty. With trends like the “clean girl makeup look” and “slugging” filling our “For You” pages, beauty lovers are inspired to level up their routines. As a result, #BeautyTikTok is evolving rapidly with new beauty hacks and influencers rising every day, making groundbreaking impacts on their community. TikTok seems to be the “perfect platform” for beauty influencers to grow, yet there’s still a wide gap for creatives of color, and Black creatives, in particular, to be seen.
Black creatives have been vocal about the recent inequalities on the platform. There has been a clear gap between exposure and opportunity from the algorithm for brand deals. There have also been unfortunate cases of content being stolen from Black creatives without any credit or recognition. As a creative myself, there have been times when I’ve felt like I had to put in more effort than my counterparts just to be noticed and when I've had to advocate for myself in order to be paid my worth. However, I love my community, so I continue to push forward and create, an adage many creatives of color live by.
In an effort to shed light on the Black content creators in the TikTok space, xoNecole chatted with five Black beauty TikTokers about their journey and experiences in the social media landscape.
Finding Your Voice and Pushing Forward
Victoria Azubuike, Beauty and Lifestyle Content Creator
Courtesy of Victoria Azubuike
“My growth as a content creator has been prolonged, and then it dramatically increased recently. I’ve recently understood my voice on TikTok and Instagram and what I want to convey to my audience. I dabbled in a few niches when I first started - mainly fashion and motivational content. Now, I’ve finally learned how to show up for myself and the community I serve. There’s no such thing as an overnight success. This journey is years of trying and sometimes feeling like giving up, there was a point I wanted to quit Instagram, as I just wasn't seeing the results... Then things finally changed. Thankfully, I found my voice.
There’s no such thing as an overnight success. This journey is years of trying and sometimes feeling like giving up, there was a point I wanted to quit Instagram, as I just wasn't seeing the results... Then things finally changed.
"I'm learning to show up as my authentic self daily, and share elements of my journey with my community. I'm learning loads, it's a process and reminding myself not to overthink certain things and think about what I would want/need to hear from somebody else. It’s not easy. However, I’m learning it’s important to still show up as my authentic self. I used to use many filters, and this year, I decided to show up as I am - even with a pimple on my face. Through time I’ve realized people respect that more. My community wants to hear from me, the content creator, and that doesn’t always mean showing up with makeup or being perfect. I’m very grateful for my community. They inspire me to push through and show up no matter my challenges."
Representation and Unity
Damilola Adejonwo, Beauty Content Creator
Courtesy of Damilola Adejonwo
"My journey as a content creator has been incredible, but at the same time, it has come with a lot of responsibility. Due to the racial climate, I always take it upon myself to show people how to respect me as a gay and Black man. Content and representation are important because they show who we are and where we come from. I want to show people that there are people who are gay, Black, and wear makeup. It’s so important to see that. I’m happy that I can show that side of myself. Although it has been a good journey for me, I think we have a lot more to do to feel fully included.
"Whenever you’re honest about your path, it’s always hard. I’ve been through so much in my life, but creating has been so therapeutic for me. Talking to the camera and sharing my story has helped many other people and me. The process allowed me to heal and have the career I have today.
Whenever you’re honest about your path, it’s always hard. I’ve been through so much in my life, but creating has been so therapeutic for me. Talking to the camera and sharing my story has helped many other people and me. The process allowed me to heal and have the career I have today.
"Believing in myself is what helped me overcome my challenges and build community. However, what I learned through that is to take time for myself. Mental health and taking a break are so important. Especially if I want to be the change, I also have to be the action. Remember to take breaks, be inspired, and know what needs to change in our community. In my community, I feel like we’re not always included, so now I make it my responsibility to include everyone for us to be unified. If I don’t take that action, other people won’t either."
Staying Positive and Being True to Yourself
Brinkley, Natural Hair Content Creator
Courtesy of Brinkley
"In the beginning, being a content creator felt easy and came out of nowhere for me. As I put in more work, I felt like I had seen less engagement. I know it’s because I am a creator of color. These days I see those who aren't part of our community do less and blow up because TikTok is showing their content. However, Black creators are constantly getting shadowbanned or not ending up on the #ForYouPage. I have over 200,000 followers, and I’m only getting 1,000 views - something is not adding up. At some point, It was disheartening, and I thought about quitting because I was putting in so much work. I can’t give up on my online community.
"Being a hair content creator, representation is important. People want to see people who look like them. I’ve realized there aren’t many people who look like me on the platform, which explains the lack of views I’m receiving. If my beauty content gets pushed out to a white audience, it will probably not do well because the relatability isn’t there.
Being a hair content creator, representation is important. People want to see people who look like them. I’ve realized there aren’t many people who look like me on the platform, which explains the lack of views I’m receiving. If my beauty content gets pushed out to a white audience, it will probably not do well because the relatability isn’t there.
"My biggest challenge has been staying positive. There are times when I do get discouraged or receive hate comments that make me feel like giving up. These are the moments when it’s important to remember who you are and not let anyone’s opinions define you. The biggest lesson has been staying true to myself. When you’re true to yourself, you can be proud of what you accomplish."
Focusing on Your Joy and What You Can Control
Alyssa Francois, Beauty + Lifestyle Influencer
Courtesy of Alyssa Francois
"My journey as a content creator has been one of the most rewarding experiences, and I'm not referring to money. Being able to cultivate a community, learn from them and offer them value is one of the best feelings. However, so many challenges come with being a content creator of color. It often feels like I have to be working 1000 times harder to get the credit or pay I deserve from brands that reach out to partner with me. This could be discouraging, but I do my best to focus on what I can control. What is in my control is making sure the content I share about healing is inspiring, educational, enjoyable, attainable, and something one looks forward to doing because healing can be ugly at times.
What is in my control is making sure the content I share about healing is inspiring, educational, enjoyable, attainable, and something one looks forward to doing because healing can be ugly at times.
"After being diagnosed with endometriosis in 2021, I embarked on a holistic healing journey because I've learned that healing goes beyond the food on your plate and medications. Taking my community on my holistic healing journey has also helped me find new ways to become and feel beautiful from the inside first. I felt that I was making a positive impact as a Black content creator when women of all walks of life reached out to me, thanking me for sharing my endometriosis journey.
"I didn't know that simply opening up more about my autoimmune disease would be interesting to my community. Being a content creator and sharing my journey to help others brings me so much joy, and I want to make sure it continuously feels this way for me."
The Power of Pivoting and Being the Change You Want To See
Trennei Adams, Beauty Influencer
Courtesy of Trennei Adams
"As a woman of color who hasn’t been in this industry very long, my experience has been great! I love the community I’ve built and continue to grow. However, I felt a lack when building a true community on TikTok. I decided to pivot over to Instagram, started taking it seriously, and posting consistently. That’s when my community started to build and form. Something about Instagram feels more intimate to me; it has now become my main platform.
"I realized I was making more of an impact on Instagram as the messages would come through. Women were thanking me for inspiring them and being transparent. Those messages mean the world to me. People are drawn to what they relate to.More than anything, I believe the world needs more kind souls. Society has made it to where it’s rare to be both kind and attractive. I am here to show that you can be both.
People are drawn to what they relate to. More than anything, I believe the world needs more kind souls. Society has made it to where it’s rare to be both kind and attractive. I am here to show that you can be both.
"I’m unapologetic about being the change I want to see. I want to see more women cheering other women on. I want vulnerability. I want to see women evolving and stepping into their power, loving themselves fiercely and confidently while also holding space for the woman next to them!
"I want young Black girls to see that whatever they want to achieve in this lifetime is possible. You can be poised, classy, well-spoken, kind, educated, have nice things, go to therapy, etc. I want that to be normal for us Black women and not a shock! My platform exudes the change I would like to see more of."
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Featured image courtesy of Trennei Adams
Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
The Gina Vs. The Jheri Curl: Are Perms Having A Comeback?
When it comes to beauty trends, everything comes full circle, and perms are no exception. If you weren't around to experience perms the first time the hairstyle was cool, then the modern version might blow your mind! But before discussing what a GinaCurl is, you have to understand the Jheri curl and what a standard perm is.
A perm is short for permanent wave and is a process that uses chemicals and heat to change the texture of the hair to a curl or wave. Perms work by altering the structure of the hair thermally or chemically and setting the curl pattern and texture. This differs slightly from what we in the Black community have referred to as "perms" growing up, which were formally called relaxers, but the word "perm" could be used to describe the chemical treatment interchangeably.
Similar to perms that are known for creating permanent waves in straight hair, perms for Black hair involved the chemical process of straightening curly hair by breaking the bonds of the hair shaft. In this article, we are focusing on perms that create permanent waves in the hair, not the perms we sometimes call relaxers.
The Jheri Curl
Though originally created by Jheri Redding, an Irish-American hairdresser in the 1970s of Nexxus and Redken fame, the Jheri curl that we've come to associate with was adapted by Comer Cottrell, a Black entrepreneur. Their at-home Curly Kits were specifically created for Black hair and would lay the groundwork for the popular style to be more accessible to everyday people and not just celebs like Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.
The standard Jheri curl that comes to mind whenever a perm is mentioned requires a two-part application. This consists of a softener or rearranging cream to loosen the hair, followed by perm rods and a solution to neutralize and set the curls. Just like with any process that chemically alters the hair, proper care and technique are needed so as not to damage your hair during the process.
However, as a low-maintenance hairstyle, once the process is done, Jheri curls can be maintained pretty simply and effectively through the daily use of a curl activator.
Reply to @wholistichut I recommend it. It’s really helped my hair grow and made maintenance of my hair easier #ginacurl #curlyperm #curlyhair
The GinaCurl, similar to the Jheri curl, has an emphasis on loosening tighter curl patterns. Unlike other perms and relaxers, the GinaCurl is believed to be a gentler and less damaging approach to chemically altering the hair for manageability. The GinaCurl created by Gina Rivera restructures the hair molecules to reduce frizz, making the hair manageable, soft, and moisture balanced.
Per their official website, Rivera's modern take on a perm includes a 3-step process:
- Step one is a chemical that breaks down the protein chains in the hair to allow a new shape.
- Step two is applying perm rods for the desired curl size and pattern, applying heat for oxidation, and rearranging the hair's protein bonds.
- Step three is neutralizing the hair and permanently setting the hair in its new shape.
Where the Jheri curl requires maintenance every 6-8 weeks, the GinaCurl can be done every 6 months.
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